#BookReview- The Saints of Swallow Hill by Donna Everhart #Historical #WomensFic @wordstogobuy

Description via Amazon.com

Where the Crawdads Sing meets The Four Winds as award-winning author Donna Everhart’s latest novel immerses readers in its unique setting–the turpentine camps and pine forests of the American South during the Great Depression–for a captivating story of friendship, survival, and three vagabonds’ intersecting lives.

It takes courage to save yourself…

Few writers evoke the complexities of the heart and the gritty fascination of the American South as vividly as Donna Everhart, whose lyrical new novel, set against the background of the Great Depression, is a powerful story of courage, survival, and friendship…
In the dense pine forests of North Carolina, turpentiners labor, hacking into tree trunks to draw out the sticky sap that gives the Tar Heel State its nickname, and hauling the resin to stills to be refined. Among them is Rae Lynn Cobb and her husband, Warren, who run a small turpentine farm together.

Though the work is hard and often dangerous, Rae Lynn, who spent her childhood in an orphanage, is thankful for it–and for her kind if careless husband. When Warren falls victim to his own negligence, Rae Lynn undertakes a desperate act of mercy. To keep herself from jail, she disguises herself as a man named “Ray” and heads to the only place she can think of that might offer anonymity–a turpentine camp in Georgia named Swallow Hill.

Swallow Hill is no easy haven. The camp is isolated and squalid, and commissary owner Otis Riddle takes out his frustrations on his browbeaten wife, Cornelia. Although Rae Lynn works tirelessly, she becomes a target for Crow, the ever-watchful woods rider who checks each laborer’s tally. Delwood Reese, who’s come to Swallow Hill hoping for his own redemption, offers “Ray” a small measure of protection, and is determined to improve their conditions. As Rae Lynn forges a deeper friendship with both Del and Cornelia, she begins to envision a path out of the camp. But she will have to come to terms with her past, with all its pain and beauty, before she can open herself to a new life and seize the chance to begin again.


Donna Everhart is the USA Today bestselling author of Southern fiction with authenticity and grit, including the Southeastern Library Association Award-winning The Road to Bittersweet and her most recent novel, The Moonshiner’s Daughter. Her fifth novel, The Saints of Swallow Hill, will be released in February 2022.

Along with her husband and a tiny, heart-stealing Yorkshire terrier named Mister, she lives just an hour from where she was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. Please visit her online at DonnaEverhart.com.

My Review

Set during the 1930’s depression, this is the story of two wandering souls who find redemption in a backbreaking turpentine camp, and learn they are stronger than they think.

Rae Lynn Cobb flees the home she’s known and loved after the horrific death of her husband, and subsequent indecent proposal from a neighbor. Scared and afraid of reprisal, she cuts off her hair and hides as a young man named Ray in a Southern Carolina turpentine camp. The work is hard, the pay negligible, but it’s the harassment from a line boss that finally ruins Ray’s secret.

Delwood Reese faced his comeuppance in the middle of a corn shute, and now he is at Swallow Hill to bury himself in work and forget the past. Del’s curiosity is tweaked by the arrival of a new guy, Ray, who seems too young and inexperienced for the tough camp life. He tries to watch over the kid but his easy-going attitude and affinity for the Blacks he works with brings the ire of a mean line boss and lands him in hot water.

As the hot southern sun heats up the land, tensions rise and it culminates in an explosive scene where secrets are revealed and new paths forged.

This is an engrossing read. At first I wasn’t sure I liked womanizing Del, but he quickly won me over with his kindness and loyalty. Rae Lynn is guilt-ridden over her husband’s unnecessary death and much of the story is on her recovery from the ordeal. She is incredibly brave to take on a man’s job in the turpentine camp with its long hours and tough work, but her inner strength shines under the continual abuse from a cruel man.

A symbolic story of good over evil, this is a recommended read!

“I voluntarily read an ARC of this book which was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.”

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25 Replies to “#BookReview- The Saints of Swallow Hill by Donna Everhart #Historical #WomensFic @wordstogobuy”

  1. The cover intrigued me first, Jacquie. Then the fact that Everhart wrote this. The book sounds great and I enjoyed your review. I still haven’t read Where the Crawdad’s Sing, but know I’ll get to this author’s work before long. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t had the chance to read Where the Crawdad’s Sing, either, though it sounds amazing!
      I love books that inform along with the storytelling- I’ll never look at turpentine the same way! lol

      Liked by 1 person

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